Weird weather

Posted: February 2, 2011 in natural disasters, Uncategorized

Colossal Winter Storm Roars Across U.S.
FoxNews online
2 Feb 2011

CHICAGO — A massive storm billed as the worst in decades barreled northeast thorough U.S. states on Wednesday, leaving vast swaths from Chicago to New York paralyzed by snow and ice. Hundreds of motorists were stranded overnight, and airports and schools were forced to close.

Chicago had 19.5 inches (49.53 centimeters) of snow, ranking the storm the third-largest on record to hit the city — and still more snow was possible. As much as 18 inches (46 centimeters) fell in Missouri, more than a foot (30 centimeters) dropped on northern Indiana and southeast Kansas, and Oklahoma saw up to a foot.

New York City was expected to get up to three-quarters of an inch (2 centimeters) of ice by midday before the mix of sleet and freezing rain warms up to rain.

Forecasters warned ice accumulations could knock down some tree limbs and power lines across the storm’s more than 2,000-mile (3,220-kilometer) path. Ice also could affect transit service.

The storm was, if not unprecedented, extraordinarily rare, National Weather Service meteorologist Thomas Spriggs said. “A storm that produces a swath of 20-inch snow is really something we’d see once every 50 years — maybe,” Spriggs said.

In Chicago, the city closed public schools for the first time in 12 years and shut down Lake Shore Drive, where hundreds of motorists were stranded for 12 hours after multiple car accidents on the iconic roadway. Bulldozers moved snow away from an estimated hundreds of cars that remained buried up to their roofs Wednesday morning, after drivers had been rescued. Only then could tow trucks move in.

Not only was driving dicey, but flying in and out of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport — a major U.S. hub — won’t be possible until Thursday. The decision by O’Hare-based airlines to cancel all their flights for a day and a half was certain to have ripple effects, said transportation expert Joseph Schwieterman.

More than 5,300 flights were canceled nationwide, according to flight tracking service FlightAware. That came a day after airlines grounded 12,630 flights due to the storm.

More than 200,000 homes and businesses in Ohio began Wednesday without power, while in excess of 100,000 customers had no electricity in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which were hit with mostly freezing rain and ice.

Rolling blackouts were in Texas.

In Oklahoma, rescue crews and the National Guard searched overnight for any motorists who might be stranded along its major highways after whiteouts shut down Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

The storm’s powerful punch came from cold air that swept down from Canada, clashing with warm, moist air coming up from the south, explained National Weather Service meteorologist Gino Izzo.


‘Monster’ Cyclone Yasi Strikes Oz Coast
SkyNews online 2 Feb 2011

A huge storm has crashed into northeastern Australia, ripping roofs from buildings and cutting-off power to thousands of homes. Officials have said Cyclone Yasi is likely to cause destruction on a huge scale and probably some deaths.

It has been measured as a category five storm – putting it on a par with Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005.

The destructive core of the storm swept in from the Pacific before hitting land at about midnight local time (2pm in the UK). Experts say it will be several hours before the winds ease.

The massive weather system is 310 miles (500km) across, with the eye alone measuring some 60 miles (100km) across. Gusts of almost 190mph (300kmh) are expected.

Then there’s this:

Flights delayed as Japan volcano erupts
ABC news online
2 Feb 2011

Volcanic lightning strikes above Shinmoedake peak as it erupts (Reuters: Minami-Nippon Shimbun)

A volcanic eruption in southern Japan has delayed international flights and shattered windows more than 10 kilometres away. The 1,400-metre Shinmoedake volcano has been belching out smoke and ash since last week, the start of its first major eruption for 52 years. But the eruptions have grown more intense in the last 24 hours, with one gigantic blast shattering windows 12 kilometres away….

Japanese volcano awakens with a vengeance
Earlier story, 31 Jan 2011

Officials in southern Japan have urged more than 1,000 residents of a town near an erupting volcano to evacuate amid reports of large rocks falling in the area.

Mount Shinmoe’s first major eruption in almost 200 years is sending plumes of ash and rocks kilometres into the sky. The eruption, on the southern island of Kyushu, has disrupted flights and train services and sparked warnings about another, even more powerful blast.

Vulcanologists say a giant lava dome on the volcano has now grown to more than 500 metres in diameter. For some people living near the volcano it is nothing more than a nuisance, but for others it is like a biblical curse.

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